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Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

Examines the public scandal and private tragedy which led to legendary filmmaker Roman Polanski's sudden flight from the United States.


Marina Zenovich
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Andrew Braunsberg Andrew Braunsberg ... Self - Producer & Polanski's Friend
Richard Brenneman Richard Brenneman ... Self - Reporter, Santa Monica Evening Outlook
Douglas Dalton Douglas Dalton ... Self - Attorney for the Defense
Marilyn Beck Marilyn Beck ... Self - Hollywood Gossip Columnist
Steve Barshop Steve Barshop ... Self - Assistant District Attorney
Madeline Bessmer Madeline Bessmer ... Self - Girlfriend #2
Michael M. Crain Michael M. Crain ... Self - Former Public Defender
Samantha Geimer ... Self - Victim
Mia Farrow ... Self - Actress
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Pedro Almodóvar ... Self (archive footage)
Istvan Bajzat Istvan Bajzat ... Self - Photographer
Pierre-André Boutang Pierre-André Boutang ... Self - Polanski's Friend
Nicolas Cage ... Self (archive footage)
Michael Caine ... Self (archive footage)
John Cassavetes ... Guy Woodhouse (archive footage)
Learn more

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In 1977, Roman Polanski was arrested in Los Angeles on charges he gave drugs and had sex with a 13-year-old girl he was photographing for Vogue. Eleven months later, having pled guilty to one count, he fled to Europe before sentencing. This film examines that year-long period, using archival footage of the media frenzy and of Polanski's life before the charges, clips from his films, and contemporary interviews with many of the principles - attorneys, the victim, and Polanski's friends and associates. Polanski remains enigmatic, but portraits emerge of the machinations of justice and of a judge more interested in his image than his word or the law. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The truth couldn't fit in the headlines.


Documentary | Crime


Unrated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


On 26 September 2009, Roman Polanski was detained by Swiss police at Zurich Airport while trying to enter Switzerland. Since this was only 1 year and 7 months after the release of this widely discussed documentary at Sundance (Jan.18, 2008), there is reason to believe, that this film was actually what caused the new arrest warrant, because it dared to question the legality of Polanski's L.A. trial in 1977 and 1978 before he fled to France on 1st February 1978. Polanski and his lawyers also tried to use the new evidence from this documentary to attack the L.A. justice system, which must have awakened their new interest in the old case, too. See more »


Samantha Geimer: The worst part was... no one believed me.
See more »


Features The Tenant (1976) See more »


Written by Krzysztof Komeda (as Christopher Komeda)
Sung by Mia Farrow
See more »

User Reviews

More Desired than Wanted
4 September 2008 | by moutonbear25See all my reviews

When most people think of Roman Polanski, they immediately remember his legal troubles over a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, when he was 44. To counterbalance this common instant reaction, Marina Zenovich's new HBO documentary, ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED, does as much as it can to remind you about the other great hardships of Polanski's life. There have been plenty, that's for sure. He lost his mother and father during the Second World War, his mother losing her life in Auschwitz. He survived somehow and eventually made his way to London, where he pursued a career in film-making, something he always knew he wanted to do. It was there that he met his future wife, actress, Sharon Tate. They made a life for themselves in Los Angeles and for a while, they were happy. Then Tate, eight months pregnant at the time with Polanski's child, was murdered in her home along with four others in a horrific fashion at the hands of Charles Manson and his "family". Still Polanski soldiered on and he did so by producing some of Hollywood's greatest classics, like ROSEMARY'S BABY and CHINATOWN. Polanski has had incredible highs and horrendous lows and while he should be both commended and consoled, he still slept with a minor and that can't be forgotten.

With so many dramatic experiences to choose from, it isn't difficult for Zenovich to string her piece together. Despite its straightforward approach, it is never quite clear where she stands on Polanski's behaviour. She does focus her documentary to show how no matter how many other things have happened in Polanski's life that this one particular mistake is the event that defines it all. However, she never questions his judgment and leaves the opinion forming to her audience. This would ordinarily be a respectable decision but Zenovich's intentions may not be as noble as they appear. She presents us with a very well balanced argument regarding whether Polanski received a fair trial or not. Lead legal counsel for both the defense and the prosecution are interviewed and, lending volumes of weight to the film, they both present relatively similar accounts of the trial and what went on behind the scenes. It is the behind the scenes material that puts the issue of fairness into question. The proceedings were overseen by Judge Lawrence Rittenband, a judge notorious for his attraction toward celebrity and the idea of being one himself. Rittenband essentially orchestrated the proceedings of his court as though he were directing a film and the intended audience was the press. Zenovich has shown us the charade and while this is all horribly unjust, it still does not negate what Polanski did.

The next question is whether what Polanski did thirty years ago even matters now. Samantha Geimer, the plaintiff in the case, who also appears in the film, has forgiven Polanski publicly. The judge now responsible for the case has stated for the record that Polanski would not serve any jail time if he were to reenter the United States. The man even won an Oscar for directing THE PIANIST in 2002. Clearly the world has moved on but Zenovich has brought us back. Her approach is well-rounded; her style is formulaic but solid. The only thing missing is a genuine satisfaction that her efforts have been fully realized. ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED alludes to Polanski being wanted in one country and desired in others but does nothing to suggest what the wants and desires mean about those feeling them. So all we're truly left with is another reminder of what he did.

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Official Sites:

Cinefilo (Spanish)




English | French | German

Release Date:

11 December 2008 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,613, 13 July 2008

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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